The mayor of Libya’s capital Tripoli has been arrested and is under interrogation, the prosecution said on Thursday, hours after the city council reported he had been kidnapped.
Armed men stormed Abdulraouf Hassan Beitelmal’s house on Wednesday night and took him “by force of arms”, the city council said in a statement.
But Seddik al-Sour, a senior prosecution official, said Beitelmal was “subject to legal procedures” and was being questioned by investigators.
He could be released “at any time”, Sour said.
He did not give further details on the investigation, but a source in the security services told AFP the mayor had been detained over suspected corruption.
A member of the city council told AFP that the mayor had not received a court summons.
The city council had announced that Beitelmal’s office was suspending all its activities in protest at his “kidnapping”.
It later issued a statement slamming “an attempt to confuse the truth about the kidnapping and deceive public opinion”, and said two of his children had been “assaulted” as he was being detained.
Initial news of Beitelmal’s kidnapping had prompted condemnation from foreign diplomats.
The United Nations mission in Libya warned of a “surge in kidnapping & abduction cases in the city”.
The oil-rich North African country has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
Two authorities – the Tripoli-based unity government and a rival administration in the east – are vying for control of Libya.
But security has improved in Tripoli since last summer, when militias allied with the unity government drove their rivals from the capital after deadly clashes.
Kidnappings, however, remain frequent.